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DFID Launces ASCEND Program & Other NTD News

News roundup

This news roundup is a collection of headlines and other items on neglected tropical diseases, and does not reflect the work or the views of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center.  

Katie Gass_TNT

Test and Not Treat activities for onchocerciasis were initiated last week in Soa, Cameroon.


Lymphatic filariasis

Global programme to eliminate lymphatic filariasis: progress report, 2018

World Health Organization
Before establishment of the GPELF, LF was responsible for an estimated 5.25 million disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) and an annual economic loss of at least US$ 5.7 billion per year. WHO recommends feasible, cost-effective approaches to put an end to one of the world’s leading causes of avoidable disability After 16 years of the GPELF, LF was considered responsible for at least 1.3 million DALYs, representing a substantial effect of interventions, although the remaining burden is considerable.

Portable infrared imaging for longitudinal limb volume monitoring in patients with lymphatic filariasis

Celia Zhou et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) emphasizes hygiene, exercise, and other measures to reduce morbidity and disability related to LF. We recently reported that a portable, three-dimensional, infrared imaging system (3DIS) provides accurate limb volume measurements in patients with filarial lymphedema. To assess the practical utility of repeated 3DIS measurements for longitudinal lymphedema management, we examined intraday and day-to-day leg volume changes in adults with filarial lymphedema in southern Sri Lanka.


Elimination of onchocerciasis in Africa by 2025: an ambitious target requires ambitious interventions

Robert Colebunders et al.
Infectious Diseases of Poverty
In order to reach the goal of onchocerciasis elimination in most African countries by 2025, we should prioritize community participation and advocate for tailored interventions which are scientifically proven to be effective, but currently considered to be too expensive.

Onchocerciasis Treatment With Ivermectin: Results Support Semiannual Mass Drug Administration

Sweta Gupta
Infectious Disease Advisor
While ivermectin plus albendazole was not superior in the treatment of onchocerciasis compared with ivermectin alone, semiannual treatment with or without albendazole was superior to annual treatment for suppressing microfilaria in the skin, according to research results published in Clinical Infectious Diseases. . . Findings from this study suggested that switching from annual to semiannual treatment with ivermectin, with or without albendazole, may result in significantly lower microfilaria burdens.


Researchers may have found a new way to fight skin-burrowing schistosomiasis parasite

Brian Mattmiller
University of Wisconsin-Madison News
In the new paper, the Newmark lab and collaborators in Jonathan Sweedler’s laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign report their successful effort to purify and chemically define this molecule, calling it “schistosome paralysis factor” (SPF). Lead author and University of Wisconsin–Madison graduate student Jiarong Gao placed SPF in various concentrations in water and demonstrated that the compound immobilized the cercariae, which promptly sank to the bottom of the water and remained in that state. Further, she showed that cercariae exposed to SPF were unable to infect mice.

Precision mapping with satellite, drone photos could help predict infections of a widespread tropical disease

Michelle Ma
UW News
A team led by the University of Washington and Stanford University has discovered clues in the environment that help identify transmission hotspots for schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease that is second only to malaria in its global health impact. The research, published Oct. 28 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, uses rigorous field sampling and aerial images to precisely map communities that are at greatest risk for schistosomiasis.

The contribution of domestic animals to the transmission of schistosomiasis japonica in the Lindu Subdistrict. . .

Novericko Ginger Bidiono et al.
Veterinary World
Schistosomiasis is endemic in Indonesia and is found in three remote areas in Central Sulawesi Province. Non-human mammals serve as reservoir hosts, meaning the disease is zoonotic. The previous schistosomiasis studies in animals from the Lindu Subdistrict did not determine which domestic animal species can serve as the primary source of transmission. No animals have been treated in Indonesia to control the disease; therefore, the parasite’s life cycle is not blocked entirely. This study aimed to determine the prevalence and identify the risk factors associated with, Schistosoma japonicum infection in animals, and identify animals’ relative contributions to S. japonicum transmission in the Lindu Subdistrict.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Community perceptions of mass drug administration for soil-transmitted helminthiasis and schistosomiasis. . .

Pauline Joy Lorenzo, Duane Raphael Manzanilla, Dazzle Kane Cortel and Ekaterina Tangog
Infectious Diseases of Poverty
Soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) and schistosomiasis are parasitic infections prevalent in tropical and subtropical countries, such as the Philippines. The prevalence of these infections remain high in certain Philippine provinces, despite established mass drug administration (MDA) programs in endemic communities. This study aimed to understand community knowledge and perceptions of these infections to determine their implications on the current control and elimination strategies, including possible barriers to MDA compliance.

Building Sustainable Epidemiological Capacity to Eliminate NTDs in Kenya

The Task Force for Global Health
A historic partnership in Kenya will allow the Ministry of Health (MOH) to generate new, robust evidence to map Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH or intestinal worms) and develop targeted interventions at the community-level in line with the national program’s “Breaking Transmission Strategy” (BTS). . . Dr. Sultani Hadley Matendechero, head of the Division of Vector-Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases in Kenya said, “With the help of new data on disease prevalence, we shall work with partners to target interventions to where they are most needed, as a means of accelerating progress towards breaking the transmission of debilitating diseases like intestinal worm infections.”

Nationwide deworming exercise begins November 4

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) is to embark on a nationwide deworming exercise in basic schools from November 4 to 8, this year. The annual mass drug administration of intestinal worm infestations and bilharzia is part of efforts to reduce the burden of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), which the GHS says have become endemic in many parts of the country. The exercise is targeting six million schoolchildren from KG Two to JHS Three in 205 districts across the country to help increase their immunity against the two NTDs in particular.

The challenge of ensuring equity in mass deworming programmes

Peter Mark Jourdan and Fabrizio Tediosi
The Lancet Global Health
Nathan Lo and colleagues have estimated the equity of access to such deworming by analysing Demographic and Health Surveys data for over 820 000 children aged 1–4 years across 50 low-income and middle-income countries. The study includes analyses of data collected between 2004 and 2017, on the basis of mother-reported access to deworming for preschool age children. The findings suggest that deworming programmes did not consistently provide deworming equitably across geographical locations and wealth classes, indicating that children of wealthier families were more likely to be treated than others. The results also apply to countries that, in line with the WHO goal, have reported more than 75% national coverage.


Progress toward Elimination of Trachoma as a Public Health Problem in Seven Localities in the Republic of Sudan. . .

Angelia Sanders et al.
American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
Of seven localities surveyed, four localities had achieved the elimination threshold of less than 5% TF in children aged 1–9 years. Six localities still required interventions to achieve less than 0.2% TT in those aged 15 years and older. The presence of latrine ranged from a low of 10.8% (95% CI: 5.2–21.1%) to 88.4% (CI: 81.5–93.0%) and clean face among children ranged between 69.5% (95% CI: 63.5–75.0%) and 87.5% (95% CI: 81.2–91.9%). These results demonstrate that Sudan is within reach of eliminating trachoma as a public health problem.

Making a Difference

Tsehay Tsambalo
Optometry Today
As an integrated eye care worker, I am in charge of carrying out trachomatous trichiasis surgeries and patient consultations. When I encounter cataract cases, I immediately refer them to a nearby secondary eye care unit. I also pay visits to the community to teach people about the importance of personal hygiene and promote face washing habits. However, the most important part of my visits is to identify people with trachomatous trichiasis so that I can convince them to come to the health centre to have surgery. The community visits sometimes involve a one or two hour walk to the village, but seeing people get their sight back is what motivates me to never stop what I am doing.


DFID launches flagship programme to tackle neglected tropical diseases

Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH)
The ASCEND (Accelerating Sustainable Control and Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases) programme is a £200m investment to advance the impact and sustainability of national programmes tackling NTDs. Implemented between September 2019 and March 2022, ASCEND comprises two lots – one focusing on South Asia, East and Southern Africa, led by a consortium including Crown Agents, and one focusing on West and Central Africa led by a consortium including Sightsavers.

Booker Introduces Legislation to Help Eliminate Neglected Diseases of Poverty in United States

Insider NJ
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) today introduced the STOP (Study, Treat, Observe, and Prevent) Neglected Diseases of Poverty Act, legislation that would provide the necessary tools to address, and ultimately eliminate, neglected diseases of poverty in the United States. . . “This legislation fills an important void in terms of health disparities in America. It is among the first comprehensive pieces of legislation to address the previously hidden poverty related neglected diseases in the United States. These illnesses are not rare, in fact they are common, but seldom diagnosed treated or prevented because they occur almost exclusively in Americans living in extreme poverty,” Dr. Peter Hotez, Professor and Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine said.


Picturing health: podoconiosis—stepping out of neglect

Alexander Kumar, Kebede Deribe, Nebiyu Negussu and Gail Davey
The Lancet
Podoconiosis is a WHO-classified neglected tropical disease (NTD) and is the lesser known of the two major forms of tropical lymphoedema. It is usually bilateral but can be asymmetric, and predominantly occurs at altitudes too high for the transmission of filarial parasites. The photographs shown here were taken by Alexander Kumar in Mirab Gojjam, a rural area in northern Ethiopia. This NTD has been described in 32 countries in tropical Africa, Central America, and Asia where red clay soils coexist with high altitude, high rainfall, and low-income communities.

The Deadliest Halloween Costume Of All

Susan Brink
Say you want to dress up as the world’s scariest animal this Halloween. You don’t need fangs, claws or horns. All it takes is a couple of pipe cleaners, some Halloween fairy wings and a few other supplies (see complete directions at the end of this post) to transform into a mosquito, a creature that poses far more of a risk to humans than the usual suspects. . . Mosquitoes are the deadliest of the eight vectors — tiny, blood-sucking critters that transmit disease from human to human or from animal to human — listed by the World Health Organization as the most dangerous to people. Together, these eight bloodsuckers are responsible annually for one million deaths and 17 percent of infectious diseases in humans.

Guinea Worm Wrap-Up #263

The Carter Center
Chad’s Guinea Worm Eradication Program reported 41 human cases, and 1,798 dog, and 39 cat infections in January-September 2019, representing increases of 215 percent, 95 percent, and 77 percent, respectively, compared to the same period of 2018. South Sudan’s Guinea Worm Eradication Program has reported four laboratory-confirmed cases of Guinea worm disease this year. Three were detected in the village of Akuoyo in Jur River County of former Western Bahr Al-Ghazal State in a 28-year-old Luo woman, her 43-year-old husband, and their 14-year-old daughter. Ethiopia has reported no human cases of Guinea worm disease for over one and a half years, since December 2017. Mali has detected zero human cases of Guinea worm disease for almost four years, since November 2015. The Angolan Ministry of Health is continuing to strengthen surveillance for Guinea worm disease nationwide, placing an emphasis on Cunene province where Guinea worm infections were reported in 2018 and 2019.

TDR Global Research Mentorship Challenge Contest

Do you have practical ideas for enhancing research mentorship in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs)? TDR Global and partners are organizing a challenge contest to engage LMIC researchers to create practical ideas for improving research mentorship. How can we enhance research mentorship within an institution, a region, or a network? What are things that mentors or mentees can do to drive forward research and learning? Exceptional ideas will be recognized by TDR Global and implemented at selected sites. The final deadline is December 1st, 2019.

Upcoming Events 

United to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis
October 30, New Delhi, India
The symposium that will bring together diverse stakeholders including global and national public health experts, partners and donors, research organizations, and pharmaceutical companies will deliberate on building a common vision towards achieving the elimination of lymphatic filariasis by 2021.

APHA 2019
November 2-6, Philadelphia, PA
APHA's Annual Meeting and Expo is the largest and most influential annual gathering of public health professionals. Nearly 13,000 attendees join us each year to present, learn and find inspiration. 

Global Health: Translating Theory into Action
November 8-9, Lund, Sweden
An annual event, the SNIH conference is an opportunity for students to network and learn about the myriad of ways that a public health career can manifest itself. In 2019, the SNIH conference will be held on November 8th-9th at Lund University. 

Women Leaders in Global Health Conference
November 9-10, Kigali, Rwanda
The annual Women Leaders in Global Health (WLGH) Conference provides a forum for established and emerging leaders from across the global health community to meet and work together to advance gender equity in health leadership, and to improve health for all. The vision for the conference is for women around the world to find their voices, receive leadership training, and gain a sense of community and inspiration.

2019 Place & Health Conference
November 14-15, Atlanta, GA
The 2019 Place & Health Conference will take place on November 14-15, 2019 at the CDC Global Communications Center, Roybal Campus. The 2019 Place & Health Conference is a free event and is open to CDC/ATSDR employees and contractors, academic and government partners, public health and GIS professionals, and students. This year’s theme is Vulnerable Populations, although we are accepting abstracts on other GIS topics of interest. Through the application of geospatial technology and methods we can increase our understanding of the locations where disasters or disease occurrence may have a disproportionate effect on the health of the population. This knowledge can be used to enhance health promotion, disease prevention, and emergency preparedness activities which are the essence of public health.

ASTMH 68th Annual Meeting
November 20-24, National Harbor, Maryland
The ASTMH Annual Meeting draws tropical medicine and global health professionals representing academia, government, non-profits, philanthropy, NGOs, industry, military and private practice. The meeting is designed for researchers, professors, government and public health officials, military personnel, travel clinic physicians, practicing physicians in tropical medicine, students and all health care providers working in the fields of tropical medicine, hygiene and global health. 

Epidemics7: International Conference on Infectious Disease Dynamics
December 3-6, Charleston, SC
Join us for the Seventh International Conference on Infectious Disease Dynamics to share another three days of intense dialogue on our ideas, data, insight, models and methods. This conference regularly attracts over 400 scientists, with representatives from many of the major research groups in this area worldwide. If you want to meet many of your peers in this field, this is the place to go. 

International Conference on NTDs in Africa (IncoNTD)
December 4-6, Nairobi, Kenya
The 1st  International Conference on NTDs (IncoNTD) in Africa seeks to bring together national and international stakeholders involved in the control and elimination of NTDs. IncoNTD is jointly organized by the African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD), the Kenya Ministry of Health (MoH), and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), and will be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya from December 4 – 6, 2019. 

CHOGM 2020
June 2020, Kigali, Rwanda
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is a pivotal agenda-setting and decision-making space for the diverse community of 53 Commonwealth countries. With varying economic statuses and vast oceans between them, our leaders meet every two years to explore how they can pool their resources and innovations to transform joint challenges into exciting opportunities. In June 2020, Rwanda will host the meeting. Connected by similar traditions, language, governance and legal structures, presidents, prime ministers and monarchs, from Africa, the Caribbean and Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific, will travel to Kigali to reaffirm their common values and agree actions and policies to improve the lives of all their citizens.

11th IAPB General Assembly
October 12-14, 2020, Singapore
The General Assembly will mark the end of the VISION 2020: The Right to Sight period. It will present a great opportunity to take stock, celebrate successes and make plans for the future. A key focus will be on the WHO’s World Report on Vision and its framework for the future. The event will have three co-chairs leading on three streams: “Excellence”, “Eye Health in the West Pacific” and “Sustainability”. 

Expo 2020 Dubai: Global Best Practice Programme
October 20 2020 - April 10, 2021
Expo 2020 Dubai’s platform to showcase projects that have provided tangible solutions to the world’s biggest challenges. It will highlight simple but effective initiatives, which localise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and can be adapted, replicated, and scaled to achieve an enhanced global impact.